FIND in
<--prev V30 next-->

From: William Ansley <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Ghastly Gorm
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2001 00:53:49 

My, we are an argumentative bunch, aren't we? (Myself included.)

At 8:38 AM -0700 6/29/01, Dan'l Danehy-Oakes wrote:
>William Ansley, quotha:
>>  I did enjoy the Gormenghast books immensely. Well, the first
>>  two, but  I even enjoyed _Titus Alone_, just not as much.
>>  (That ending!)
>Well, it isn't really supposed to be an ending, nor was the
>"trilogy" intended to be three books long. Peake was dying
>(in great pain) when he wrote _Titus Alone_, which explains
>at least _some_ of its infelicities*; he tried to get on with
>the fourth book but didn't get very far.
>* The greatest "infelicity," the fact that the story does
>   not take place in Gormenghast, is not in fact an
>   infelicity except by accident. The longish series was
>   intended to be the story of Titus, not of the castle;
>   the castle was such an overwhelming presence that it became,
>   in effect, the main character of the first two volumes of
>   the projected series. If the whole had been completed
>   (and if Peake had been at his full powers in writing
>   it), I gather, Titus would have been more clearly the
>   center of the whole thing and the castle more clearly
>   a setting.

Actually I knew that _Titus Alone_ was unfinished and that Peake 
intended to have Titus return to Gormenghast eventually. But, the 
book was published the way it was, with the ending it had. I don't 
see how I can judge it as what it might have been but wasn't, rather 
than what it is, a book with a (to me at least) quite unsatisfactory 

The fact that TA didn't take place in Gormenghast didn't bother me 
particularly, in fact I rather liked the weird, science-fictional, 
somewhat Kafkaesque world in which Titus found himself.

>>  For all the rest of you who did enjoy the Gormenghast trilogy,
>>  there is a novella about Titus as a young boy called "Boy in
>>  Darkness" which is, in my opinion, as good as the best bits of
>>  the novels. It actually takes place away from Gormenghast, for
>>  the most part.
>Ummmm... no, I don't think so. Just in one of the odder quarters
>of G., where you can forget you're in a castle. Think of the
>place where the christening is held, that sort of place. Titus
>doesn't actually _leave_ Gormenghast until well into the second
>volume, and "Boy" seems to take place between TA and G.

This assertion surprised me so much that I had to re-read the story. 
Having done so, I stand by my assertion: Titus did leave Gormenghast.

I will quote from _Peake's Progress_, in which "Boy in Darkness" runs 
from p. 179 to 233.

First of all we have in introductory paragraph written at the 
beginning of the story on page 179.

This story was commissioned in 1955 and published by Eyre & 
Spottiswoode in 1956 together with two other stories, by William 
Golding and John Wyndham, under the title _Sometime Never: Three 
Tales of Imagination_. The boy in the story is Titus Groan, and the 
strange experience he undergoes is an imaginative exercise of an 
event which _might_ have happened to him, when he escapes from his 
ritual laden home of Gormenghast.

OK, the events in the story didn't happen at all apparently (the 
whole episode is so dreamlike that this seems probable) but, assuming 
they did, one of the events is Titus leaving Gormenghast.

On p. 187. after Titus has been traveling for a while:

By now he was several miles from the castle itself and deep into less 
obvious territory

He moves on and on, until he is past the last landmark he recognizes, 
then he crosses a river he has never seen before and is then carried 
for miles farther and brought into the depths of an enormous mine.

After he escapes, on page 233:
      The Boy was lost for a long while but, walking in a kind of 
dream, came eventually to the banks of a wide river ... He boarded a 
little boat and was pushed across the water ... by the time the boat 
touched ground on the far side his adventures had melted from his 
      It was not long before one of a host of searchers found him lost 
and weary in a crumbling courtyard and carried him back to his 
immemorial home.

William Ansley

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

<--prev V30 next-->